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In Which Junior Seau’s Suicide Makes My Consider Boycotting FootballPosted by Nathan S. on 05/05/12 | Filed under Features, Opinion, Sports, NFL
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Even five years ago it would have been inconceivable that I would someday consider boycotting football. I grew up the son of a former college football player - hell, I was born on the Ohio State campus - and football was as much as part of our house as it is for literally millions of Americans. God did not bless me with size, instead he chose to bless me with the gift of writing about rap, but had I been faster, stronger and about 100 pounds heavier, I'd still be playing the game.
And yet, today, I'm seriously considering boycotting football. Maybe I will, maybe I won't. Maybe I will for a time period. Honestly, I'm wrestling with the idea. But the mere fact that I'm this close to no longer watching the game I loved so much is frankly shocking.
Junior Seau is dead, almost assuredly in part because of injuries he sustained while playing football. We don't have to wait for the coroner's report to come back though, because the best evidence that his death was football related is the fact that he shot himself in the chest to preserve his brain for study. Just think about that for a moment. A man is so desperate that he decides to kill himself, but even while pulling the trigger he's committed enough to the belief that football screwed him up that he shoots himself in the chest. Eloquence aside, that's fucking crazy.
And of course Seau is far from the only one. In the last year alone we've been bombarded by stories of concussion-related deaths, murders and suicides. Chillingly, Seau is now the eighth member of the 1994 AFC Champion San Diego Chargers to have died before the age of 50. That means nearly a fifth of the starting roster is now dead, a rate that surpasses almost every other profession.
The NFL can take steps to reduce injuries - changing rules to deter the most violent hits, increasing helmet padding - but simple truth is that there is something inherent in the game of football, the constant pounding of the human brain against the human skull, that kills people. That violence is an inescapable and essential part of the game.
I once dreamed about teaching my future son to play football. Now, I wonder if I can claim to be a responsible parent when I know I'm subjecting my child to possible brain trauma. I wouldn't want him to stand still while someone threw rocks at his head, and it's becoming increasingly evident that football is just that, spread over potentially hundreds and thousands of hits by the time a player hits the NFL. Can I really support a sport by watching it that I wouldn't want my child to play?
I realize this article is rambling, perhaps incoherent. If it is, then it's a pretty accurate reflection of my mind state now. On a purely philosophical level, it's becoming harder to stomach the idea of watching a game that leads to grown men killing themselves in droves. And yet, the idea of spending Sunday without football on is oddly frightening. Football is almost as ingrained a part of my life as hip-hop.
More than anything, RefinedHype Nation is one of the more intelligent group of people on the interwebs, so I thought I'd throw the topic out to y'all. Maybe after reading your comments I can get a better sense of how I should feel about the game. Or maybe I'll end up even more fucking confused.
But either way, if you're a football fan and you're not at least asking yourself the question, "Should I really be watching this?", you're not doing enough. Men are literally dying for your entertainment. Literally the least you could do would be to think about it for a moment.
UPDATE: The Junior Seau 911 Call Is Harrowing <<< Warning, not to be listened to lightly. This is absolutely heartbreaking to listen to.